| TRANSLATING OLD ADVERTISING INTO NEW MEDIA |
Coming from someone who has a background in retail marketing and sales, the internet can be intimidating when you begin to contemplate bringing your business online. From customer service to inventory, everything still has its place when you start running an ecommerce site, you just have to understand how it works.
Online shopping is the new normal. Have you ever heard of a brick-and-mortar store that fulfills all of the following criteria:
- Your store is open every hour of every day and on the weekends
- With a little SEO and advertising you can reach an audience of roughly 3.1 Billion people
- Your store can operate with zero employees (depending on your business)
- In certain states you aren’t required to pay sales tax when you sell to customers outside your state ( Here’s a handy guide to each state, courtesy of Nolo.com).
For most people the biggest primary concern, when transitioning from a storefront to an ecommerce site, is understanding how it all works online. And the surprising answer is that everything you do running a real life business has its own counterpart on the internet. From advertising to inventory everything has a place in creating a successful ecommerce site.
While it may be easy to get around the internet once you’re logged on, there is a lot of content to be seen. As of June 2015 the internet contains at least 4.73 billion pages. When talking about “location” with a website or mobile app, it becomes a huge competition just to be seen and discovered by your potential customers. Most people consult a search engine such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo when looking for a specific service or product. This is why SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and paid ads through Google Adwords, Facebook, and other display networks can get your business a prime location on the internet.
Before I began shopping online I was terrified to type in my credit card information into anything. My greatest fear was that I don’t know who I’m selling or buying from? How do I know my information is secure? After learning and understanding the process of payment systems like Paypal, Amazon, and Square I can safely say I have a much better understanding and control over my money online. These sites offer SSL encryption methods to protect user data and process hundreds of payments minute by minute without interference. They also provide secure linkage to personal and business accounts at your preferred banking institution.
Because all your sales will be done online without a physical location, shipping becomes a substantial concern to ecommerce site. Most ecommerce platforms like Magento, Wix, Shopify, and others have options to include shipping costs in their payment systems and determine prices for shipping through weight of the products and destination. A great way to encourage sales and increase customer satisfaction is to offer “Free Shipping” and include the cost of shipping into the product’s initial price.
Having excellent representations of your products online is essential to making sales. If your customers aren’t able to physically interact with your merchandise it’s extremely important to provide good quality high resolution images of your inventory online. Having exceptional photos of your products or services will show your business is professional and create trust with the customer, guaranteeing them that “what they see is what they get”.
Repeat Business and Reputation:
It’s important to keep your ecommerce site neat and organized. Customers who can’t find what they’re looking for or are frustrated by the difficulty of your ecommerce site’s layout will most likely leave and buy what they’re looking for somewhere else. Similar to creating an open and accessible storefront, having a well designed website is extremely important to keep and maintain a good business ethic online. If you create an enjoyable shopping experience for users of your site you can also gather a powerful online reputation through social media. The power of patrons to “like” and “share” websites they enjoy with others opens the door for endless advertising potential online.
How to Make an Impact:
If you’re considering starting an online business, there must be a reason for it, and it’s up to you to make that reason important to your potential online customers. Every time we work with someone who is starting an ecommerce business, one of the biggest questions is, “How can I get my site to rank well in Google searches?” There are a few strategies that we recommend. First, define your brand. Your positioning statement will inform everything about your website. Define your audience. Start with a clear and specific niche and then expand your target audience bit by bit. There are a plethora of strategies for launching an ecommerce website and a supporting marketing campaign. Get in touch with us for more details and ideas.
Written by Erik Reichenbach, JCM Art Director